Does your dog or cat’s bad breath nauseate you when they try to give you kisses lately?
Has your veterinarian mentioned words like tartar, calculus, gum disease at your pet’s annual exam or recommended that you get your pet’s teeth cleaned?
Click below to watch a cute video and see if this reminds you of your pet… if so, schedule a dental cleaning today. Your pet, and your friends and family members will thank you.
Top 5 reasons to schedule a dental cleaning for your pet:
5. Stop that bad breath! If your pet has bad breath, there is likely a reason for that. By cleaning all the tartar off of your pet’s teeth you should notice a huge difference after the dental.
4. Prevent tooth-loss– Unfortunately I see a lot of diseased teeth during dentals that ultimately need to be extracted (removed) or even fall out on their own. By doing yearly (or more frequent dental cleanings), you are promoting your pet’s oral health and decreasing the likelihood that teeth will need to be extracted. Although pet’s can live without teeth they are usually better equipped for chewing with them.
3.Save money over time– Routine straight forward dental cleanings are way more affordable than dental cleanings with multiple teeth that need to be extracted. You can save money by keeping up with your pet’s teeth.
2. Screen for oral cancer or other problems during a dental- many pets do not like oral exams and oftentimes it is very difficult to see into your pet’s mouth (even for a veterinarian sometimes). Pets also don’t tell us when they have a problem. THIS IS VERY COMMON WITH ORAL PAIN. I have seen multiple patients with severe oral pain and dental disease that are still eating and acting like they are fine towards their owner. Yet when I touch the teeth they flinch or jerk in pain.
During a dental cleaning your pet is anesthetized (for information about the anesthetic process please read the anesthesia blog) making it possible to do a detailed oral exam. I have found growths or cancers in the mouth that we hadn’t been able to see before. It is also common to find diseased teeth on an anesthetized oral exam that we couldn’t see while your pet was awake. So even if your pet doesn’t have really bad breath or tartar, routine cleanings can often be a very helpful tool to prevent oral pain and disease. For example, by extracting a bad tooth early we can prevent a painful/harmful abscess; by removing growths or cancers early we can often prevent further spread.
1. Improve your pet’s health! We talked about oral health but did you know that dental/gum disease (periodontal disease) can cause internal health problems as well. Heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, arthritis, are just a few things that have been linked to periodontal disease. Plaque/tartar buildup on your pet’s teeth is really a film of bacteria that hardens into a calculus on the surface of the tooth. This bacteria is coming in contact with your pet’s gums and getting into your pet’s blood stream, circulating through the body, and showering your pet’s internal organs with bacteria. Pretty gruesome when you think about it. I’ve had pets with mild elevations in their liver values that then return to normal after a dental cleaning.
A majority of the patients I see for their annual wellness exams have some form of “dental disease”. This can be plaque build up on the teeth, gingivitis or inflammation of the gums, periodontal disease, etc. Here we are doing an oral exam on a dog under anesthesia. Lets look at this picture to demonstrate some of these things…
Red arrows– Show a few of the many areas of hardened tartar or calculus covering the surface of the tooth. See how it extends down to the dog’s gums.
White arrow– See how the dog’s gums are more red along the surface of the tooth- this is gingivitis where the gum has become inflamed in response to the tartar on the nearby tooth.
Yellow arrows– gum (gingival) recession or periodontal disease. Once gingivitis starts, the gum can start receding from that tooth. Here you can see the tartar extends beyond where the normal tooth should be, likely exposing the tooth root underneath. Once the gum starts receding the tooth can become loose and bacteria can work their way down the root of the tooth causing more problems.
Here we have some before and after pictures of dogs with severe tartar that got their teeth cleaned:
Teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler, polished, and an oral exam is preformed. Dental x-rays may be recommended depending on the oral exam. You can see the dramatic improvement after the dental cleaning.
Here is an x-ray of a tooth root abscess. A lot of problems can exist below the gum line and dental x-rays help us better assess the health of the tooth.
How can I help prevent further dental disease after a dental or before it even starts?
– BRUSHING: pickup a toothbrush and special pet toothpaste (do not use human toothpaste) and try brushing your pets teeth. This is great to start early on puppies and kittens to get them use to it. Brushing daily is ideal. We recommend going slow, using patience and giving your pets treats and praise to get them comfortable with brushing.
-DENTAL CHEWS/TREATS- by giving your pet a dental approved treat, their chewing action can help remove some plaque and tartar and keep the mouth healthier. Some recommended dental items are C.E.T chews, Veggie Dents, Clenz-a-dent chews, Greenies. I also like the Science Diet T/D (teeth diet) food which is a dental diet. Pets prone to dental disease can start this food as a maintenance diet. I also use it on my older Labrador in place of treats since the kibbles are almost treat size and this way every “treat” helps his teeth .
-Food and Water Additives- these can be helpful in different ways. For example, Clenz-a-dent food additive works daily to keep bacteria from attaching to the pet’s tooth and creating plaque and tartar. Its is easy alternative if brushing is too difficult.
You can also combine the above suggestions to make your own dental plan. It helps to prevent tartar before it starts! And your vet will be very impressed during annual exam time.